Newsom's School Reopening Plan Hits Roadblocks as Educators Demand Vaccines

Gov. Gavin Newsom’s Safe Schools for All reopening plan is increasingly looking unworkable. As POLITICO reports, during a recent Senate hearing, “lawmakers skewered Newsom’s $2 billion proposal to give districts ‘in-person instruction grants’ as a way to encourage schools to open their doors to elementary students.” The legislature has to approve the plan before it’s complete, so the skepticism is not a welcome sign.

Lawmakers have been hearing from school districts – including the state’s largest – that the plan is unfeasible. The Legislative Analyst’s Office has also raised doubts that schools could set up the necessary testing protocols and work out agreements with teachers unions in time for the Feb. 16 target date.

But the real fly in the ointment here is vaccines. Increasingly, teachers and their unions want vaccinations before staff return to the classroom.

The state’s largest school district, L.A. Unified, made it official this week. On Monday, Superintendent Austin Beutner said teachers would need to be vaccinated before the reopening of K-12 classrooms. The union, United Teachers Los Angeles, says even that’s not enough. It wants to see teacher vaccinations plus a significant decline in community spread.

California’s vaccination effort has been an uphill climb. As of Sunday, California had administered 2,199,908 of its more than 4.9 million doses. That gives California the 12th lowest rate among the 50 states plus Washington, D.C.